By Roslyn McKenna, PetSafe Web Content Specialist
Does your cat do a great impression of a race car when she hears your front door open? Some cats aren’t satisfied with life inside and want to explore outside, despite your best attempts to keep them inside. It can be stressful trying to keep an escape artist kitty inside, especially when they make a mad dash for the door every time. Here are some ways you can teach your kitty to stop trying to escape.
1. Designate One Door for Outside Freedom
Help your cat associate one door with going outside. Pick a door you want your cat to use, such as the back door, side door, or whichever door you use the least. Put on your cat’s harness near that door and only let your cat out through that door.
Your cat should associate that door with going outside and stop darting for any open door. My cat Skittles had an in-ground fence in the backyard. She would go to the back door when she wanted outside, and I would put on her collar by that door before she could go out. She didn’t try to leave by the front door because she only associated the back door with freedom.
2. Teach Your Cat to Sit & Stay
Teach your cat to go to a certain place when you leave and come home. A cat tower or cat tree is a great option for this. Before you leave, walk over to your cat’s place. Encourage your cat to come over with a treat. Pet her when she’s in her place and give her more treats. Toss a few extra treats next to her when you leave so she’s busy eating as you’re opening the door.
A treat-dispensing or interactive cat toy is another great way to keep your cat from darting. For cats who are easy to train, you can even teach them "Sit" and "Stay" to keep them in that place without treats or toys.
3. Install a Cat Door
You can give your cat limited outdoor access with a pet door. The beauty of a cat door is that you can lock it whenever you want. You could let your cat outside during the day or when you’re home, then lock it at night so your cat avoids strays, predators and nighttime traffic.
Electronic doors are a great way to keep your cat in while letting your dog outside. Your dog wears a special key on his collar that opens the door when he walks up to it. If your cat doesn’t have a key, the door won’t open for her. You can also set certain times when each pet can use the door.
4. Spay or Neuter Your Cat
Cats who aren’t fixed tend to stray more often than cats who are fixed. Unfixed cats could wander quite far from your home in search of potential mates. Cats who are fixed tend to stick closer to home because they have no desire to breed.
There are other great side effects of spaying/neutering too, including reduced rates of cancer and other diseases. And even if your cat does get out, you’ll feel better knowing your cat isn’t contributing to the pet overpopulation crisis.
This video puts it much better than I could: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4TxOG3gk8U
5. Use a Pet Proofing Barrier or Spray
You can use a squirt bottle or a can full of pennies to scare your cat away from the door, but you have use it every time your cat is near the door. Pet proofing barriers and sprays are an easier way to keep your cat away automatically. Simply place the spray or barrier near the door and turn it on. With a spray deterrent, any pet who walks near the device will feel a short burst of spray. With a barrier, your cat wears a special collar, and as your cat gets near the door, she will hear a warning beep. If she keeps going, she’ll feel a gentle, harmless static correction that reminds her to keep away from the door. It’s a safe, consistent way to teach your cat to stay away from the door.
Extra Safety Tips for Outdoor Cats and Indoor Escape Artist Cats
- Pay attention to when your cat tries to dart and look for signs that she’s about to run for the door.
- Post a note by your door that warns visitors to watch out for the cat before opening the door.
- Make sure your cat always wears a collar and tags.
- Keep your cat’s shots up to date, especially for rabies and Feline Leukemia.
- Give your cat monthly heartworm and flea meds.
- Protect your cat by teaching her to stay in your yard with an in-ground fence.
Do you have an escape artist kitty? How do you keep your cat from getting out?